2004 – 2005: commercial and non-commercial attempts to fight spam

Oren Drori CommTouch

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With the exponential rise in spam over the past two years, a number of commercial and non-commercial anti-spam approaches have been proposed. This paper provides an overview of trends in the spam industry, and evaluates the viability of commercial and non-commercial anti-spam approaches.

Perhaps the most significant trend in spam is the profile of the spammers that stand behind most of the junk mail which floods our inboxes. Whereas two or three years ago spam was mostly used by quasi-legal operations, criminals and organized crime are responsible for most of today’s spam. Spam-related e-crime activities include: use of viruses as a distribution platform, penetration and hijacking of computer stations, directory attacks and email fraud.

In this context, we will discuss the major non-commercial efforts at containing the spam problem, including: legislation, Internet standardisation and non-profit organizations. We will explain why these efforts have been largely ineffective, and sometimes even counter-productive. Finally, we will review several commercial approaches, which effectively handle spam and block it almost completely. The expected long-term effectiveness of these solutions will be discussed. In conclusion, we will show that the overall cost of commercial solutions is far below that of either accepting spam or implementing non-commercial alternatives.


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